Some symptoms of the Porphyrias. Which ones can you identify with?

  • May 11, 2022

Symptoms vary from one type of porphyria to the next. Cases are generally classified into one of three groups, which include:


  • acute porphyrias – this condition mostly affects the nervous system. The skin is occasionally affected. Acute porphyrias generally occur during adulthood and are rare before puberty or after menopause. Different types of acute porphyria include ‘acute intermittent porphyria’ and ‘erythropoietic protoporphyria’. Symptoms of acute porphyrias may include:
    • muscle pain or paralysis
    • seizures
    • disorientation
    • hallucination
    • bloody (red) urine
    • hypertension 
    • gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, abdominal pain and constipation
  • cutaneous porphyrias – this condition affects the skin but not the nervous system. The skin is highly sensitive to sunlight and exposure tends to trigger symptoms within minutes. Cutaneous porphyrias may develop during childhood. Different types of cutaneous porphyria include ‘porphyria cutanea tarda’ and ‘hepatoerythropoietic porphyria’. Symptoms may include:
    • red, itchy, blistered, painful and swollen skin 
    • bloody (red) urine
  • neurocutaneous porphyrias – this condition affects both the skin and the nervous system. Sunlight exposure tends to rapidly trigger symptoms. Different types of neurocutaneous porphyria include ‘variegate porphyria’ and ‘hereditary coproporphyria’.